Ever since we were little, we’ve known that the fourth finger on our hand is called the ring finger, and within many cultures around the world, that’s because it’s where couples place their wedding bands. But why is this the rule for which finger to wear a ring on when you’re engaged and after the wedding? This tradition for wedding ring hand and finger dates back centuries, based on very romantic, although not scientific, ideas. Despite all the modern changes to nuptial traditions, what hand a wedding ring goes on has stayed the same.
In most cultures, the wedding ring finger for married couples is the fourth. In ancient Rome, it was believed that there was a vein that ran directly from the fourth finger to the heart, the vena amoris, or vein of love. Now, we know that all the fingers have veins that eventually lead back to the heart, but the romantic tradition for which finger to wear a ring on keeps the idea of connecting it to the heart. With a proposal, the engagement ring finger is also the fourth finger. However, some cultures have different ideas for what hand a wedding ring goes on. In the US, the engagement and wedding ring hand is on the left. While couples can wear their wedding bands on any finger, there’s something special and significant about putting it onto the fourth finger on your left hand.
Most people who get both an engagement and a wedding ring choose to wear them on the same finger, stacking one on top of the other. Traditionally, wedding bands are placed on the bottom, closest to the wearer's heart. To do this, you can either wear your engagement ring on your other hand during the ceremony and place it over the wedding band later, or you can simply make the switch after the ceremony. To keep the rings together and make them more comfortable, one option for how to wear an engagement ring and wedding band is to solder them together.
There is no set rule for how to wear an engagement ring and wedding band. With large, unique rings, they may fit better when worn on different fingers. The easiest alternative option for an engagement ring finger is the fourth finger on your right hand. However, if you’re not engaged, you might not want to wear anything on your left wedding ring finger, especially if you’re trying to date and meet someone.
When deciding where to wear your rings once you’re married, there’s something romantic about sticking with tradition for the wedding ring hand. Having a band on your wedding ring finger announces your marriage to the world and acts as a constant reminder of your partner’s love. However, since there’s no hard rule about which one should be your wedding or engagement ring finger, couples are free to make their own choice and write their own love story.